em·​bez·​zle | \ im-ˈbe-zəl How to pronounce embezzle (audio) , em-\
embezzled; embezzling\ im-​ˈbe-​z(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce embezzling (audio) , em-​ \

Definition of embezzle

transitive verb

: to appropriate (something, such as property entrusted to one's care) fraudulently to one's own use embezzled thousands of dollars

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Other Words from embezzle

embezzlement \ im-​ˈbe-​zəl-​mənt How to pronounce embezzlement (audio) , em-​ \ noun
embezzler \ im-​ˈbe-​z(ə-​)lər How to pronounce embezzler (audio) , em-​ \ noun

Did You Know?

English has a lot of verbs that mean to steal - some more specific than others. "Pilfer," "purloin," "rob," "swipe," "plunder," "filch," and "thieve" are some noted examples. "Embezzle" differs from these by stressing the improper appropriation of property to which a person is entrusted - often in the form of company funds. First appearing in English in the 15th century, embezzle derives via Middle English from the Anglo-French embesiller, meaning "to make away," formed from the prefix en- and the verb besiller, meaning "to steal or plunder." Related to "embezzle" is "bezzle," a verb used in some British English dialects to mean "to waste or plunder" or "to drink or eat to excess."

Examples of embezzle in a Sentence

He was caught embezzling money from his clients. He was convicted of embezzling.

Recent Examples on the Web

Khrapunov’s father-in-law, former BTA Bank chairman Mukhtar Ablyazov, is accused of embezzling billions of dollars from the bank and funneling the money into offshore entities. Michael R. Sisak, The Seattle Times, "Lawsuit: Sater looked to launder cash through Trump projects," 25 Mar. 2019 According to a police report from the time of her 2015 arrest, Romain was accused of embezzling: $22,601 from Magnolia Distributors, which listed a business address for Jazz Gumbo, a tourist souvenir and T-shirt shops. Heather Nolan, NOLA.com, "Woman pleads guilty to embezzling $84K from French Quarter businesses," 13 Apr. 2018 It was allegedly embezzled and misused by Keino and the others. Mutwiri Mutuota, The Seattle Times, "Keino given more time to report to police in corruption case," 15 Oct. 2018 An audit has found that no taxpayer dollars were embezzled from the public-private nonprofit Centro San Antonio, but officials say the city failed in its oversight of the organization’s finances. Richard Webner, San Antonio Express-News, "No taxpayer money lost in Centro embezzlement, audit says," 20 Mar. 2018 In an Alford plea, Sahagun maintained the company’s innocence, claiming a former employee embezzled from the business. Heidi Groover, The Seattle Times, "State drops charges against Tacos Guaymas owner accused of tax theft," 13 Nov. 2018 He was paid with the proceeds of a currency-exchange scheme through which $1.2 billion was embezzled from PdVSA, prosecutors said. Samuel Rubenfeld, WSJ, "Former Oil Company Director Pleads Guilty in Money-Laundering Probe," 31 Oct. 2018 Gates admitted during testimony on Monday to embezzling money from Manafort. Peter Doocy, Fox News, "Drama grips final moments of Rick Gates' testimony in Manafort trial, as lawyer poses surprise question," 8 Aug. 2018 Gates had already admitted to embezzling money from Manafort. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "Manafort’s defense team goes all out to try to discredit Rick Gates’s testimony," 7 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'embezzle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of embezzle

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for embezzle

Middle English embesilen, from Anglo-French embesiller to make away with, from en- + besiller to steal, plunder

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Statistics for embezzle

Last Updated

12 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for embezzle

The first known use of embezzle was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for embezzle



English Language Learners Definition of embezzle

: to steal money that you have been trusted with


em·​bez·​zle | \ im-ˈbe-zəl How to pronounce embezzle (audio) \
embezzled; embezzling

Kids Definition of embezzle

: to steal (money or property) despite being entrusted to take care of it The banker embezzled money from his customers.


transitive verb
em·​bez·​zle | \ im-ˈbe-zəl How to pronounce embezzle (audio) \
embezzled; embezzling

Legal Definition of embezzle

: to convert (property entrusted to one's care) fraudulently to one's own use — compare defalcate

Other Words from embezzle

embezzlement noun
embezzler noun

History and Etymology for embezzle

Anglo-French embeseiller to make away with, from en-, prefix stressing completion + beseller to snatch, misappropriate, from Old French, to destroy

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More from Merriam-Webster on embezzle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for embezzle

Spanish Central: Translation of embezzle

Nglish: Translation of embezzle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of embezzle for Arabic Speakers

Comments on embezzle

What made you want to look up embezzle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

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